Fujiya held a DAC Festival today in Aoyama, Tokyo. This is the 4th show Fujiya Avic has hosted this year. It's basically more a desktop DAC event of which to compliment it's Desktop Amp show back in January '12. This event was probably as big as the Portable Show back in July but all in a big room (plus 2 smaller rooms for speaker setups) and being a desktop rig, the target audience was rather specific. Despite that, the turnout to be quite decent.
In an attempt to make the demo tables as consistent as possible, most exhibitors had Ultrasone Ed8's and Sound ValveX SE amps attached to their DACs. Occasionally Lehmann Audio Linear Amps were used instead, and of course some other desks had exceptions. I'm not certain if Ultrasone Ed8's were the optimal headphones to use (having owned those before), but at least the exhibitors were consistent. Personally, I brought my Fostex TH900, and iBasso DX100 with optical cable for my own familiar tracks.
Unfortunately I turned up late (2 hrs before it ended) and only got to sample a few DACs that caught my eye and missed many exhibitor tables.
The first stop being TimeLord's table featuring Chord Electronics QuteHD and QBD76HDSD and April Music's Eximus DP1. I probably spent the most time on this desk due to my interest in both these brands and their offerings. Both the QuteHD and DP1 could accept my DX100's optical but the QBD76HDSD didn't like it. Unfortunately with the queue of listeners, there wasn't time to troubleshoot and I just fell back to the demonstrator's PC with unfamiliar DSD/DFF & FLAC tracks.
The next stop was Olasonic's showroom with their DACs hooked up to Fostex speakers instead. Sadly I didn't pay enough attention in this showroom.
This next speaker showroom setup was Phasemation (whom I've not heard of before, but appears to be very high end). I'm not too sure where the "DAC" was in this 'cos the demo was off vinyl. This one impressed me 'cos I'd never heard vinyl presented that way till today. They had Hotel California playing and the presentation was simply amazing. Vinyl was in the early part of my life but nothing I (or my parents, I should say!) had sounded anything like that.
These amps are Y2,625,000 each!! (approx USD$33,400/per ch)
Focal Maetro Utopia & Chorus 826V
Mytek Digital also made a show there which was surprising 'cos I didn't realise they had a distributor in Japan. I've been very interested in the Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC 'cos I've been going back 'n forth between the Eximus DP1 and Mytek Stereo192-DSD DAC for some time and finally I managed to listen to both in the same room! One thing that's interesting about the version of Mytek in Japan is that it's was designed specifically for 100V/230V whereas the US version is 115V/230V. The price for the difference? Y231,000 (USD$2940!!) vs $1525+delivery from eBay for the US version.
I did ask the distributor sonically if it'll make any differences and he was quite honest in saying that mostly no. Possibly the bass might be somewhat less forward was his opinion. I don't know enough of audio tech if this is true or not. I was more curious about clock speeds being affected (if it mattered at all).
Oh yes, the Mytek Digital also didn't accept my DX100's optical for FLAC above 44.1kHz. So once again I was at the mercy of the demonstrator's tracks; DSD at least.
Burson made a show but I didn't try it, cos it was sitting next to the dCS Puccini & Debussy instead :-).
It's not often that I'd get a chance to try out such high end gear and I'd probably will never get the chance to own one so why not!! Unfortunately the Debussy didn't have any optical input and I didn't bring my (super short) 3.5mm coax so I couldn't use my DX100. The demonstrator's setup sounded very nice naturally - even it was feeding into a Sound ValveX SE amp.
@Frenchbat showed up too and had a listen to the dCS Debussy...isolation appeared to be a problem :D.
Like the Phasemation, despite being a DAC show, Agara's AGH-1000 Y1,080,000 (USD$13,740) headphone amp made a show. This is a new product that'll be released next month. The amp (or should I say the amps?) is (are?) made up of two amps in parallel - as such dual power supplies, dual power switches, and dual volume controls (for left and right channel). I must say it was a little unusual to control each channel independently. The DAC was neatly hidden under the table so I had no idea what they used. Luckily some of my favourite tracks were on the demo PC.
It was a nice sounding amp although my personal feeling is that it was designed as such 'cos "it simply could".
Other exhibitors that caught my eye included Lavry Engineering with their DA11, and a rackmount DA924, Grace Design's M903, and Redwine Audio Isabellina HPA. I also stopped by Fostex's table but I didn't try their HP-A8C since I've heard it quite a few times now. However I did ask them where they're at with their DSD-over-USB driver and they're still sorting out a few kinks (namely clicks between track switching).
Finally thank you to FrenchBat and Arnaud for making a show although I feel bad for Arnaud as he didn't demo a single DAC! And I think FrenchBat didn't get to try many himself.